2013/14 was my first full year as Chair of the Partnership. It has been an interesting year to say the least and I suspect that we have another one on the way. As a group I feel that we have been much more engaged and looked at some of the wider issues affecting us all.
- Re-launched our security managers network, ISNorthEast and registered it as the local government WARP for the north east.
- Held a one day ‘Enabling Safe Business‘ event to examine the balance between PSN and other security regimes and the need to not constrain business operations.
- Established a regional ‘PSN leads’ group for information exchange and peer support which helped the region become one of the first where all councils were compliant.
- Revised our Partnership Agreement to reflect Durham and Northumberland becoming full Partners.
- Continued detailed discussions about co-delivering some ICT services
- Continued to build our national networks with the Cabinet Office, the Local CIO Council, Local Data Panel, Microsoft Shared Learning Group and the Technology Strategy Board.
- Continued to extend our local networks, holding discussions with other public sector organisations in the LEP area about ICT Security, PSN and greater collaboration between organisations and with the wider digital community through Digital Union, SOCITMNE, Digital Leaders (North East) and DynamoNorthEast.
We also faced continued challenges:
- A zero-tolerance regime for PSN compliance
- Continued pressure on staffing and financial resources
- Increased pace of organisational change and building rationalisation programmes
- Increased responsibility for curriculum networks and schools services to ICT
- Sustained pressure to enable access to corporate data and services on portable devices such as tablets and mobile phones
- Pressure to implement infrastructure to support new service delivery models
- Change in representation from a number of Partners
Identifying and delivering joint initiatives that can ease common issues and address the common challenges that we are facing with capacity, capability and our ability to help our organisations respond to change will be key to the success of the Partnership in the coming years.
This year, perhaps more than previously, we all faced a lot of the same challenges which have occupied most of our time. We have been able to consult, advise and share information on PSN compliance that has strengthened the trust and working relationships between Partners at Head of Service and other levels; informal discussions with colleagues in outsourced environments have proved especially valuable.
Resources to support the Partnership remain secure – a financial plan remains in place securing the Partnership Analyst as a full time resource. A project fund remains available to support new collaborative initiatives.
Specially convened workshops and meetings of our sub groups, enabling heads of IT and middle managers to share good practice, explore joint working and mutual support, and keep track of developments in policy and technology were also held. In particular, and with our minds particularly focussed on PSN compliance, ISNorthEast provided a valued forum for discussing concerns and sharing information about security procedures.
To ensure the Partnership’s activities reflect and support local priorities we reviewed our work programme and reprioritised initiatives.
Through the Partnership we jointly considered a wide range of subjects, including:
To develop new, and exploit existing, ICT infrastructure and applications.
To grow, share and develop knowledge, experience, skills and professionalism within the ICT community
To maximise opportunities for jointly procuring ICT goods and services
To help shape the use of ICT in the North East for the benefit of the residents, people who work here and those who visit the region.
I believe that the NEICT has a role to play in developing and supporting ICT across the region and that we have the will and determination within the group to make a difference. I would like to thank colleagues for their continued enthusiasm and support.
Finally, I would also like to thank colleagues in our Lead Authority (Sunderland City Council) ICT and Finance departments for helping with the smooth running of the Partnership, Chris Foreman of Sunderland ICT for supporting our website and Graham Jordan, our Partnership Analyst.